Cast the grape Popsicles from your life

Because of my reputation as a deep thinker, people are always interested in hearing my New Year’s resolutions. Okay, I made that up, but it sounded convincing. And it’s an apt segue into what I am going to share.

What do I plan to change for 2010? It’s simple: Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Why Kristy, that’s too vague. It doesn’t say anything. You of all people should know it doesn’t follow the SMART (specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic, and time-based) goals format and can’t be relevant.

I beg to differ. I think we get too caught up in details at the expense of principles. And by principles, I mean OPERATIONAL principles. How many of us have a life code other than the Golden Rule by which we live? We need more of a “Code of Many Colors” (hey, that would make a good song!) other than just gold. The Golden Rule doesn’t cover all the bases. Along those lines, this is what I recommend to adopt as 2010 operational principles:

Figure out the right thing to do and do it first. There’s always that one thing if you did first, would set all kinds of other things in motion. Anyone who’s been around a woodpile (or canned goods display in a grocery store) knows that pulling the “right” object sends a heap more tumbling in your direction. Why not apply that principle in more positive ways in our own lives by giving serious thought as to what action would leverage the most other action?

Address the elephant(s) in the living room. Etiquette dictates you acknowledge everyone in the room, which includes those that typically get avoided. Walk up and make eye contact, but don’t get too friendly because the elephant is going to have to go. Recognition is the first step. Elephants are the ideal right things to do first so you’ll have more elbow-room to create something better.

Acquire the right tools for the job.  One of my worst moments was when I discovered I had to bury a family pet using a broken-tipped shovel. Steven Covey was absolutely right when he said to take the time to “sharpen the saw” for better results. Why struggle if you don’t absolutely have to?

Surround yourself with competence. Ed Sullivan was only as good as the guests he was smart enough to book on his show. Assemble the most talented cast of people possible to make you look and feel your best. Don’t do business with self-centered types, bottom feeders and other idiots. The same goes for your personal life, too.

Communicate your needs. Be sure you and everyone else know what you mean. Don’t assume people somehow automatically “get” you or understand what you expect of them. Especially when they’re friends and family. You’ll be more likely to get the help you need if you ask for it.

Be a better steward of existing resources. There is only so much money and only so many hours in the day, so make the most of them. Play to your strengths versus lament your weaknesses.

Know when to quit. I recently read Seth Godin’s fascinating 80-page book called DIP in which he discusses the importance of knowing when to quit versus when to persevere. Hard as it is to admit, we all have areas where we’re throwing good money after bad or doing the equivalent of cranking the thermostat with a window left open. Conserving wasted time and energy leaves some for more productive pursuits.

Give honest feedback. The next time someone asks for feedback, respond honestly, but not brutally. Tactful, helpful feedback, even though it may sting, makes us better people.

If you can’t use it, give it to someone who can. Don’t wait until something is rusted, out of style, past its expiration date, etc. If you buy or receive something you can’t use, pass it on as soon as practically possible.

Don’t eat the grape (or flavor you dislike) Popsicles. Better yet, pitch them as soon as you open the box of assorted flavors. And absolutely never fish something back out of the trash. Life is too short to volunteer for dissatisfaction.


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